lessons along the way

Being on a sabbatical has been very interesting. As it so often is following the Lord, it hasn’t gone as I expected. Dale Wolyniak wrote in a very helpful booklet, Sabbaticals for Minsters, “A ministry sabbatical is ideally quite different from a traditional academic sabbatical or a sabbatical practiced in business. It is about the spirit and soul being refreshed, renewed, and redirected.” Preparing for this sabbatical, I began to relish the thought of being refreshed.

Being in ministry all these years and starting a church have been amazing. I cannot imagine doing anything else. Enjoy the friendships, serving alongside the greatest people, and making new friends along the way have been the greatest! I thank God all the time for the privilege of serving him in this capacity. It’s been awesome! But little did I know how much emotional energy was spent and how “tired” I had become. Entering my seventh decade adds to this as well. All the leadership challenges, the weekly gearing up for worship services, administrative responsibilities, emergencies, tragedies, relational challenges and conflicts, criticism, and continual spiritual warfare does take a toll. Yup, after 27 years of ministry, I realized I was a bit weary. It showed up in sleep challenges, physical ailments and difficulty dealing emotionally with things that should have been no big deal.  Now, this is not meant to be a sob story. No, not at all. Yes, during this sabbatical, I discovered how weary I was. But more importantly, far more importantly, I have experienced the extreme goodness and love of God my Father. It has been a humbling but gratifying experience to see and experience firsthand how much God loves me. I am beginning to see the light!


I struggled with the idea of taking a sabbatical, especially at this important season in our church. Honestly, I really didn’t want to go, not now. But through the counsel and encouragement of some amazing individuals and elders, I decided to go through with it. The quote from Dale Wolyniak resonates with me more and more during this sabbatical adventure. Being refreshed was so appealing to me as I began. My spirit and soul cried out, as well as my body, for refreshment. And yes, God has been faithful.

Eugene Peterson wrote in an article, Sabbatical Is Not Study Leave, words that have challenged and inspired me during this sabbatical.

“If we are going to take sabbaticals, let them be real sabbaticals: a willed passivity in order to be resorted to alert receptivity to spirit-prayer, silence, solitude, worship. It is outrageous that we acquiesce to the world’s definition of our word and let our unique, biblical sabbatical be put to the use of career advancement, psychological adjustment, and intellectual polish–with all the prayer and contemplation laundered out. The original intent of Sabbath  is a time to be silent and listen to God, not attend lectures; a time to be in solitude and be with God, not “interact” with fatigued peers. If help is to be given to the pastor in midcourse, it is not going to come by infusion of intellect, but by renewal of spirit.” 

Powerful words that I am taking to heart. I marvel how God has so orchestrated the events in my life to teach me a great lesson–how to abide in Him. I often think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I am praying more and more, especially in this sabbatical season that Jesus would teach me and I would find rest for my soul. I have slowly begun to feel refreshed. I am slowly understanding what is at God’s heart for my sabbatical. I am slowly learning that “…it is not going to come by infusion of intellect, but by renewal of spirit.”

Believe it or not, I am enjoying the journey more and focusing less on getting to wherever I am going, physically and spiritually.


As far as being renewed and redirected…well that’s a story for another day. Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me to rest. Thank you for your faithfulness, patience and goodness. I am humbled by your love for me. Thank you!

another step…

btw, props to my son John for taking the pics. Thanks, John!



reflect not regret

One of the blessings of my journey to grow in abiding in Christ is reflection. Webster’s defines reflect as “to think quietly and calmly.” As I learn to abide, it leads me to times of reflection. I am learning how good it is to reflect. Too often in my past, I would look back with much regret. “Shoulda.” “Coulda.” “Woulda.” When you’re me, with all my quirkiness, impulsiveness, insecurities, and sinfulness, looking back can be pretty discouraging. But as I am learning to abide in Christ, I am learning to reflect and think quietly and calmly about all the things God has done in my life despite or maybe better put, in spite of me.

Very recently, two verses really gripped my heart as I reflected upon God’s involvement in my life. In Jeremiah 31:3, I reflected upon the unbelievable truth of His Word, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Yesterday, in the midst of facing a long time fear of mine, I kept thinking, “My Father loves me with an everlasting love.” He knows me inside and out. He knows my fears and lack of faith. He knows my sinfulness. He knows everything about me and still, He loves me with a love that will last forever. He actually loves me!! That is unbelievable! That’s called grace upon grace upon grace!

I have loved you with an everlasting love. ” 

Another passage I have been quietly and calmly thinking about is Ps. 139:17-18. The more I think about this passage, the more crazy it is. It is truly unbelievable! “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Okay, I can understand that God has thoughts about me. Even me. But how many? They only outnumber the grains of sand! I once heard that 1 cubit foot of sand contains over a billion grains of sand! Just 1 cubit foot! How much would all the grains of sand be on just one beach! Or just one playground sandbox. Just one! Not all the beaches or sandboxes in the world. And God’s thoughts about me outnumber that amount? Really? How can that be? This is me we are talking about. But as I reflect and think quietly and calmly at the truth of God’s Word, it begins to sink in. That my God, knowing who I really am, the good, the bad and the ugly, loves me with an everlasting love and thinks about me more than I could ever imagine!

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

As I pondered all that, a very precious thought came to my mind and into my heart. On September 21, 1992, God’s everlasting love was demonstrated to me with the birth of my son, John. The Bible says that children are a gift from the Lord. On that day, I received a very special gift. 24 years later as we celebrated his birthday, I was reminded of God’s innumerable thoughts about me and His everlasting love, as I reflect upon His gift called John. He has been a source of great joy, a very articulate and sensitive young man, an outstanding school teacher and leader, who at 24, is honestly and truly, a far greater man than I was at his age. And you know what that is? It’s a joy. It’s the joy of a father when he sees his son mature into an amazing adult. It’s an answer to prayer that my ceiling will be my children’s floor. That they would go far beyond where I have gone. It’s an affirmation of God’s everlasting love and yes, how precious His thoughts about me.

Yes, there are many challenges I face. Yes, life can be stressful. Yes, I get worn down and discouraged. Yes, I give in to too much fear, more than I would care to admit. BUT, oh the joy of abiding in Christ. How precious it is to abide and reflect upon all that God has done, is doing, and will do, in and through the life of someone as imperfect as me. That’s crazy! But that’s God. Thanks, God!

another step…